Review: Cygnett Workmate Extra-Tough iPhone 4 Case

The Cygnett Workmate Extra-tough ($29.99) is a case for when you need to be prepared to drop-kick your iPhone down a mine shaft, and then go retrieve it and make a phone call. It’s huge, ultra padded, and offers a mammoth amount of protection.

The construction of the Workmate Extra-touch is extremely simple. It’s one piece of rubberized silicone—extremely thick, extremely durable. You just slip it over your phone, and put on a screen protector if you want. What it doesn’t do is protect any of the ports, or offer a substantial guard for the screen. Regardless, for any falling damage, this case will be able to absorb a huge amount of force without damaging your phone. Hell, you could probably drop kick it half way across a football field, and it’d be fine.

Old (left) vs new (right) design.

The design of the case is actually the source of some controversy, as some people preordered it based on a design later changed (see picture above). While there are certainly thematic links between the two, the details are pretty radically different.

The design of the case is bulky, and while that bulk gives it impressive protection, it does take up a lot more space than a naked iPhone — and the buttons can be damn hard to push. The volume controls are buried beneath the silicone, and without the tactile distinction from up and down, it’s tricky adjust noise levels on the fly. The deeply buried mute switch and headphone port as also incredibly problematic to reach.

Unlike, say, an Otterbox case, ports are left completely exposed on this case. The dock and headphone openings have nothing in the way of protection from the elements. If you’re looking to seriously guard your iPhone against damage, you’ll probably want something a tad more covered.


The Cygnett Workmate Extra-tough ($29.99) is a case built for protection, with thick edges and padding all around. Yet even though the tough silicone sleeve will doubtless guard against percussive damage to much of the phone, the case just doesn’t offer enough. If you’re really serious about a case to protect against damage, you’ll want something that closes off the ports, and possibly has a hard screen protector, which the Workmate is lacking. For these reasons, if you want the best protection you can find, we suggest looking elsewhere. We rate the case as average, 6.5/10